Friday, December 2, 2022

ICC: “It’s something we’d like to address”: Mithali Raj on India’s batting weakness

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Mithali Raj admits the pressure is building on India’s batting big guns as her side were bailed out by their all-rounders against Pakistan.

The 2017 runners-up leant on hefty contributions from Deepti Sharma, promoted to No.3, Sneh Rana and Pooja Vastrakar in a 107-run win over their arch rivals.

But with Shafali Verma, Harmanpreet Kaur and Raj herself dismissed inside single figures, the skipper isn’t resting on her laurels at ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022.

“I’m relieved that we won the first game but there are a few things we’d like to work on,” said Raj, appearing at her sixth World Cup.

“When you lose wickets in a row like that in the middle order, it definitely puts pressure and we needed a very important partnership between Sneh and Pooja to get up to that total.

“That is something we’d like to address because when you start playing the tournament, it’s important your top order scores runs.

“When you have all-rounders like these, you would like to use them not only in the bowling department but the batting because it strengthens us and means we bat deep.

“That’s what we got to see in this game.”

The total of 244 for seven, buttressed by Rana and Vastrakar’s seventh-wicket stand of 122, proved way beyond Pakistan in front of a sell-out crowd in Tauranga.

Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof rued a sloppy second half of the innings with the ball for letting India surge past the 200 mark.

“We bowled well in the first phase and we were in the game,” said Maroof.

“We leaked runs in the middle and didn’t make the most of the momentum we had. We bowled bad balls, gave them easy runs and we were sloppy in the field.

“We dropped too short of a length when we had to replicate what we did at the start to make sure the target would be lower.

“Credit for the way their batters capitalised and took the game away from us.”

Bismah is one of eight mothers playing at ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 and this was her first appearance at the tournament after the birth of Fatima last August.

A photo of Bismah’s arrival at the ground with Fatima in her arms went viral on social media and she is the first Pakistan cricketer to return to the fold after becoming a mother.

“It was a bit emotional for me today to have my daughter with me,” she said. “I really want to make it count in this tournament for her.”

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